What Color Choice Can Do for Your Workforce

By Francesca Mathewes

Sep. 10, 2019

Color choice can help enhance the mood of an office setting.

Boosting productivity and wellness is a challenge for which organizations are looking to more creative solutions.

Color choice of the office is one relatively simple yet impactful tool that organizations from hospitality to tech are implementing to elevate the level of productivity, wellness and experience in their spaces.

“People are starting to see the psychological effects that color has on us, especially in the workplace,” said PPG Color Design Manager Vanessa Peterson. “It can really spark certain emotions and spark certain responses from people because they’re integrated into a space for so many hours.”

This reaction, Peterson said, has to do with what certain colors communicate in a space and how that communication works with other elements of office design to create an overall atmosphere. For this reason, blue is often chosen over others for interior design.

“Many of the colors that we find in nature, specifically blue, have caused a lot of really great health and mental benefits because of its serene and peaceful nature,” Peterson said. “It reminds people of the sky, or it reminds people of the ocean, in a very calm and tranquil space.”

Even within the color spectrum of blue, slight variations in shade can communicate different things, which in turn affects how people might feel in a space.

“One of the great things about blue is that for the most part, each version of blue has an identity of its own but also reflects the idea of either calmness or wellness. That idea of wellness can be integrated into an atmosphere where it gives you this feeling of power and it can feel very regal,” Peterson said. For example, a stronger blue such as cobalt is often used in sports companies’ marketing and darker shades of navy that exude a sense of maturity are used by universities.

The design industry is also seeing a heightened interest in color choices for products, Peterson said.

“Not only are you having desk and wall colors and furnishings go into this more serene setting, but you’re having tech companies do this with their products as well,” she said. “They’re going into a lot more beiges and a lot more soft corals, mints and blues, even into the actual technology to give that overall feel.”

The search for the equilibrium of office color and design is also about more than just improving productivity. Creating a sense of serenity in a space that people go to everyday can improve mood, too.

A study conducted by the University of Texas found that more bland colors such as beige, gray and white induced feelings of sadness and depression, particularly among women. This was in contrast to colors like blue and pale green, which produced feelings of productivity and peace in study participants.

PPG also named “Chinese Porcelain” its color of the year, which is a rich, natural blue and was selected with the idea of serenity and clarity in mind.

“With everything that we’ve been seeing happen socially and culturally around the world, we really felt that that shade of blue emoted that sense of serenity that people are looking for in this day and age,” Peterson said. “They want to have that sense of wellness, that sense of peace and they want to see a color and feel something that’s outside of that idea of intensity or anything that would make you feel disturbed.”


Francesca Mathewes is an editorial associate for Workforce.

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